Sentenced to death based on the testimony of a single juvenile witness, two Cleveland men have maintained their innocence for 40 years. Now someone has finally listened.
The two Ohio men, Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman, walked out of prison as free men last week after the state’s witness in the case admitted that he made up his testimony under police intimidation, ABC News reports.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Richard McMonagle formally dismissed all charges against Jackson Friday after a brief hearing, and Judge David Matia exonerated Bridgeman—whose case was heard separately—two hours later, the report says.
The pair joined Bridgeman’s younger brother Ronnie, now known as Kwame Ajamu, who was found guilty of the same crime and eventually paroled in 2003, according to ABC.
The men were charged with the 1975 murder of Harry Franks, a Cleveland businessman, after a 13-year-old witness named Edward Vernon told police that he had seen them attack the victim, the report says. No physical evidence linked them to the crime scene. Jackson was just 19 years old when he was sentenced to die, Wiley Bridgeman was 20 and Ronnie Bridgeman was 17, the news station notes.
“The English language doesn’t have words to express how I’m feeling right now,” Jackson, now 58, told reporters, according to ABC. Bridgeman, now 60, quietly thanked the judge and attorneys in the courthouse as his case was dismissed.
Read more at to ABC News.